Nothing says summer quite like the bloodsucking buzz of the mosquito. And it’s not just the mosquitos -- the ticks, midges, no-see-ums, ants and other creepy crawlers are just as relentless. Luckily, we humans have developed various bug repellent tactics to combat Mother Nature's most annoying pests: lighting citronella candles, burning sage, dousing ourselves in DEET, rubbing picardin lotion all over, and our favorite, Insect Shield Technology woven right into our clothing. Before we get into why we love Insect Sheild protected clothing, let’s dive into the alternatives.
What is DEET?
DEET (or diethyltoluamide), is the most common active ingredient in insect repellents. It was actually developed by the U.S. Army in 1946 to protect soldiers in insect-infested areas, and a few years later it hit consumer shelves.
DEET works by basically taking you off of a bug’s radar. Insects can sense people and animals by detecting the air that we breathe out. DEET masks the smell and thus makes it harder for insects to find you. Sounds harmless enough, but the issue with DEET lies in the chemistry.
The compounds that make up DEET are toxic when absorbed or ingested into the human body – it’s a pesticide, after all. And if you’re rubbing or spraying DEET onto your skin, the chances to absorb are high. Though it’s not been proven by the FDA to cause cancer, DEET has been linked to skin irritation, redness, rashes, and swelling. And DEET actually stays in the body for a long time. DEET absorbed through your skin can be found in the blood up to 12 hours after it is applied. Once it’s in your body, DEET travels through the liver where it’s broken down into smaller chemicals, and finally exits through the urine. Most DEET has left your body within 24-hours of application.Because DEET is so widely used, it has been found in wastewater -- and in places where waste water becomes part of the environment.
So let’s talk about the effects of DEET on the environment. First of all, DEET does not dissolve or mix with dater very well, so it needs. To be broken down by other chemical processes – even natural ones. When DEET gets into the soil it will stick to the soil unless it can be broken down by microbes, like bacteria and fungi. Like the human kidney, these microbes just break the chemicals down into smaller compounds without actually “removing” it. Like most pesticides, once it’s out in the world, it stays there. Think of it like plastic. The same thing happend when DEET is sprayed or evaporates: it will be in the air as a vapor and then begin to break down slowly in the atmosphere.
The producers of DEET have spent a lot of money trying to say that it’s not toxic, or that it’s safe for kids. But as parents and environmentalists ourselves, we don’t buy it. To be on the safe side, we avoid DEET sprays and DEET mosquito repellents and look for alternatives that do not absorb into the skin or the environment.
What is Insect Shield Technology?
The DEET alternative that we like is Insect Shield Technology that utilizes permethrin (per-meth-er-in). Permethrin has been successfully used in the United States as an U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered product since 1977, with an excellent safety record. It is used in lice shampoos for children, flea dips for dogs, and various other products, some of which are regulated by the FDA. The Insect Shield process binds a permethrin formula tightly to fabric fibers which result in effective, odorless, permethrin-treated clothingfor insect protection that lasts the expected lifetime of apparel.
And best of all, it does NOT absorb into the skin. Insect Shield Repellent Apparel puts insect repellency near your skin, instead of on it, and the protection is invisible. Also, the repellency is long lasting, so no re-application is needed.
Permethrin treated Insect Shield® Repellent clothing has been proven and registered to repel mosquitoes, ticks, ants, flies, chiggers, and midges (no-see-ums). Insect Shield® Repellent Gear has been proven and registered to repel mosquitoes, ticks, fleas, and flies. The EPA requires extensive effectiveness data to prove a product's ability to repel insects. Many species and varieties of these insects have been tested, including those that can carry dangerous diseases.
Permethrin treated clothing is not toxic to dogs or cats, and is safe for kids and toddlers – though we recommend monitoring your kids closely when you use any new products. Insect Shield Technology has been deemed safe by the EPA and has actually been used in millions of uniforms for US Military as well as in millions of permethrin-treated bed nets that are distributed globally via malaria control programs.